EP - 047

Unlock Your Brand Positioning

With Mark Drager

Choosing the right positioning category can enhance customer engagement and brand differentiation

The How To Sell More Podcast


January 12, 2024

In this episode of “How to Sell More,” host Mark Drager shares the brand positioning framework that both he and his clients love — and that most organizations completely overlook. Once you understand and apply this framework to your own brand, it will help you with your campaigns, your lead generation, your sales and ultimately, your customer retention.

  • Find your place along the spectrum: Choose a category along a spectrum that spans from rational to emotional: infrastructure, product/service, process, personality, purpose, and experience.
  • Your placement is just the first step: Align your company’s brand positioning with your overall business strategy.
  • Strengthen your brand identity: Use this new understanding of your brand’s positioning to create consistency in messaging and experience across all touchpoints to strengthen your brand identity and customer loyalty.

"This has to do with your company, your unique selling style, and really, what your customers are looking for from you." -- Mark Drager

Links to This Episode

Key Takeaways

  • Brand positioning spectrum - Understanding and strategically choosing a position on this spectrum is crucial for marketing success.
  • One is not better than the other - As you work your way through the framework, you may feel that the more “emotional” brand positions have an advantage. Not true! This has to do with your company, your unique selling style, and really, what your customers are looking for from you.
  • Benefits of proper brand positioning - Choosing the right positioning category can enhance your customer engagement and help you to stand out from your competitors.

Top 3 Reasons to Listen

Understand the characteristics of each category on the spectrum: Mark walks us through each of the positioning categories -- infrastructure, product/service, process, personality, purpose, and experience -- and gives examples of businesses and brands that use their positioning correctly.

Alignment between brand positioning and business strategy: Discover how applying this positioning to your brand will help you create your campaigns, improve lead generation and sales, and ultimately, keep customers coming back.

When brands are positioned incorrectly: Learn what happens when there's a mismatch between positioning and business operations, and how the proper positioning can help to avoid customer confusion and ineffective campaigns.

More About our Host, Mark Drager

AKA the Badass Brand Architect, 5th Generation Entrepreneur, Host of The How To Sell More Podcast

When he's not podcasting, Mark's the Co-Founder & CEO of SalesLoop. He's a dedicated husband to his high school sweetheart, Jacqueline, and a proud father of four.

Mark didn't follow the typical route to becoming a sales & marketing expert. A connected figure in the entrepreneur community, Mark provides listeners with a unique mix of wit, insight, and straightforward advice.

Some of Mark's unconventional adventures include commandeering a Boeing 737-800 for a day, facing harsh criticism from a billionaire, and shedding 70 lbs in his late 30s. Though he never attended college, Mark stands as proof of the

A Transcription of The Talk

Mark Drager: Welcome to "How to Sell More." Today, I'm going to geek out a little bit. I'm going to dig deep and share with you a framework around brand positioning that I love, my clients love, and frankly, most organizations completely overlook. So, if you're ready to spend the next few minutes just geeking out a little on brand strategy what this can do for your business, and how it can fix a lot of the miscommunications that happen, stay tuned. We're going to get into it. I'm Mark Drager. Let's dig in.

So, part of the benefit of being in branding, brand strategy, creative production, ad agencies, and all this stuff for the 17 years that I've been a part of it here at Sales Loop, is that I get the opportunity to connect with some of the greatest minds in marketing, strategy, and business. I get to pick up little things they share along the way—stuff you would never hear at a conference, stuff you would never see people speak about. But just by being around them, just by being able to ask them questions and absorb these different frameworks, tools, and lessons, it's really shaped the way I approach brand strategy and thinking.

Now, one of these is the brand type, your brand positioning type. I always want to credit who I learned these things from. I think David Kincaid over at Level 5 Strategy Group in Toronto is the one who introduced this to me. This is a cornerstone part of our brand strategy process. And I'm about to share this with you. I'm about to share the secrets that most of us don't talk about because I know this will change your approach to marketing, sales, to almost everything you do.

Okay, so I'm going to walk you through a framework. Now, I'm going to ask you to visualize it because this is an audio podcast. But if you want a download for this, find my profile, Mark Drager, send me a message, let me know, and I will personally get you a visual copy of this framework, this spectrum I'm about to walk through.

Okay, so first of all, what is brand positioning? Well, brand positioning is just the idea that we can shift how we show up, what we say, what we look like, what we feel, what we're kind of hanging our hat on. Like, what are the key benefits? What are the key points? What is the most important thing? We can shift that depending on the type of company we are, the type of clients we are, and what we think our greatest benefits are.

So, if you think about this spectrum, from the left, it's almost like a political spectrum, right? There's the left and the right and the centrists. But if you think about this brand positioning spectrum, on the left, as far left as you can go, you have rational—the most rational reasons you would position or the most rational reasons someone would buy from you. And on the right, all the way through, to the right, we have emotional—emotional positioning, emotional brands, emotional reasons why people will buy from you for very emotional reasons. And in the middle, we have six different stops along the way.

So, I'm going to walk you through each of these. I'm going to give you a few examples and share a few stories. You'll see why understanding this and then applying this to your own brand, and your own business, will help you with your campaigns, your lead generation, your sales, and ultimately, your customer retention.

Okay, let's start on the left, as far left as we can get on this spectrum. This is the rationale, and as far left as you can be as a brand, you can position yourself as an infrastructure brand. It's essentially what you have. If you have a server farm, if you have a hospital network, if you own a toll route, if you are the telecom company that owns the wires in the ground, and you are the only one serving a certain area, you essentially have an infrastructure brand. People will look at you, people will notice you, people will engage with you, and people will buy from you because of what you have. Do you need a lot of marketing? Do you need to be emotional? No, not really.

Up here where I live in Toronto, we have a highway, a toll route called the 407, the 407 ETR. In the 90s, our government built this bypass to get around Toronto because the traffic is so bad here. Do you think LA is bad? The traffic here is terrible. So, they built this bypass. And it's going to be a toll route, and the government is going to run this and operate this toll route. And it's all very reasonable. I don't know what they were charging at the time—maybe eight cents a kilometre or something like that. Well, they

decided to take this asset that the taxpayers paid for, and they sell it, they sell it to a private company out of France. Flash forward to today, I think we pay something like 65 cents a kilometre, something like that. It is incredibly expensive. But they can charge whatever they want because they have the infrastructure. Take the highway or don't take the highway, it's up to you. They have the infrastructure, and you want to avoid the long lines and the terrible traffic.

They have the infrastructure. Now, I geta be honest with you, I don't think I've ever worked with an infrastructure brand. I mean, we worked with an organization called Infrastructure Ontario that builds infrastructure for our government. But they didn't do much marketing, I can tell you that because they don't need to. So that's all just interesting and well and good. It's just a starting point. Let's move slightly more to the right, moving from the rational slightly more to the emotional. The next stop along this spectrum is product or service positioning, and this is what you sell.

Now, the product or service, that you sell, is basically just a feature and benefit approach. Think back to when Fitbit launched. When Fitbit launched, it was a wearable, a pedometer, a watch. In a market of frankly not very many pedometers, watches, and wearables. Like when they launched, they didn't have a lot of bells and whistles. But because they were first to market, if you bought a Fitbit, you bought it because of what it was. Since then, I mean, what do we have? Google bought Fitbit, and then they launched the Google Watch. But Apple has a watch, and Garmin has a watch. And everybody has all these watches that are far, far superior to Fitbit. And why do I know that? Because I've had a Fitbit, and I bought my wife a bunch of Fitbits, and I bought my family a bunch of Fitbits, because they're pretty cheap and pretty affordable. And they last about a year, the straps break, they just stop working, they won't charge, they shut off.

I don't ever expect to get more than a year out of a Fitbit if you're lucky. But there's still a brand. And they still sell. And that's what I've come to expect from them. And that's probably what you expect from them because there's nothing really fantastic or flashy about them. Because at the end of the day, their whole positioning is just about that product or that service. You buy it, or you don't buy it. It's not the most emotional in the world, but it still sells products. Now, this opens you up to competition, because you're not really giving people a damn good reason to pick you over anyone else, right? You're going to compete on cost or price, you're going to be more simple, you're going to be features and benefits based, it's not really a very emotional sell. And this leaves the door open for a lot of competition to come in and for your market to essentially commoditize. Because if you have A, and someone else develops B, and B is slightly better than A, then people will just pick B. Right? There's nothing emotional about it. But you can sell yourself that way.

Now, the next step along this journey, moving from the rational—again, we started with infrastructure, then we moved on to product or services—the third step along the way is the process, how you go about it, how you do it. I work with a lot of professional service firms, and a lot of professional services in the B2B space. And inevitably, a process and how you do it is an amazing place to play, especially if you're people-driven. Because your experience, your approach, the way you think, your systems, your processes that are hopefully proven, your frameworks, your tools—like all of this stuff comes down to process. And people trust the process when it's predictable and it works. Think about a law firm, an accounting firm, an engineering firm, an architect—all of these things that I'm listing, and I know that I'm listing things that tend to be more people-driven or service-based, but this can also work for manufacturing. This can work for all kinds of things. In manufacturing, you might be infrastructure-based if you happen to have the right equipment and are the only ones who have that equipment. But a manufacturing company might also be process-driven because it might not be about the equipment—everyone might have the equipment. But maybe the way you approach your work, your thinking, what have you, the process you do, and how you do it, is what you're hanging your hat on.

And so, a process-driven brand, frankly, we have way more to work with than an infrastructure brand, or a product or service brand. We have way more benefits, we have ways that we can separate you from someone else, as long as everyone in your industry isn't saying the exact same thing. I love process-driven brands. Because we can create a unique process, a unique approach. And it better work. But especially when it works and drives great results, there's so much we can do with it.

Now as we move over to the right, to the next step from rational to emotional, I will warn you.

As I take people through this brand strategy process and talk about these things, many times people get the inclination or the feeling that somehow emotion is better. Like, the more emotional it is, the better. That's not true.

This has to do with your company, your unique selling style, and really what your customers are looking for from you. So, the more emotional we go, it does not necessarily mean we're technically better or offer a higher level of service, but it's just a different type of business approach. And I'm going to share a story in a second after I'm done going through these that will illustrate why this is so important.

Okay, so we're moving from the process a little further right? We're now moving into personality, who you are. Here are a few companies I'll throw your way. Think about Virgin. Right? Virgin Mobile, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Records. Who comes to mind? Richard Branson, a personality, someone who has led these companies. Now, Virgin and Richard Branson, on the whole, prefer to move into red ocean opportunities, meaning he's not looking for the blue ocean. He's not looking to create a brand-new thing. What he wants to do is go into an established market that is overly saturated, and he wants to do it better than anyone else. How is he able to do that? Well, he focuses on experience and delivery and high quality of service, but he's really spent a lot of time cultivating that personality. That fun. I mean, I remember when they launched Virgin Radio, Virgin Mobile here maybe 20 years ago in Toronto, and he jumped out of an airplane and parachuted into the city for the grand opening. Like, what the hell is that?

Here's another brand I'll throw your way: Dyson. Dyson vacuum cleaners. Now, people will argue with me and say no, Dyson is 100% a product or service. But it's not. It's not just about the product. The product is good. There are lots of vacuums, lots of Hoovers out there, depending on where you live, Black and Decker, and all these people make vacuums, right? It's not a process approach. It's 100% a personality, because when they launched Dyson vacuums and went super heavy on their campaigns, what did they do? They had the dude sit there on camera, with his really cool British accent, with his awesome clothing, and his soft tone. And he would explain that, for 20 years, he made 5,000 prototypes, and none of them worked. But then finally, they did, and he crafted the vacuum cleaner. So, there's no dust, and it's all about the vortex or whatever the hell they did when they launched. It's a personality brand. Dyson is an engineer, and he created the world's greatest vacuum, in his opinion.

Now, I bought into this, and I bought a Dyson. And before that, we had a vacuum called a Filter Queen. Now, a Filter Queen is like a two or three-thousand-dollar vacuum. And it's kind of old school. It's one of these round canisters on wheels. But when I had the Filter Queen, everything was made out of metal. Everything was really heavy-duty. It lasted a very long time. Anything that broke on this more of a commercial-grade vacuum could be fixed, and we had it for, I don't know, 14 years till I bought into this hype of the Dyson. When I got the Dyson, this $900 vacuum or something, plastic, did not work very well, frankly. The canister... you know, I bought into the whole like, you know, it never clogs up. Yeah, it never clogs up because you have to empty the canister every 25 minutes. No wonder my old Filter Queen, I could leave it for a month. Now, I got to empty this thing all the time. I hate it. But the personality had me buy into it. And don't worry about me and my family. We went back to a Filter Queen. I bought it and left Dyson anyway.

So, that is the next one on the list. Now, I have two more I'm going to hit you with. The next is purpose. And this is getting even more emotional. Maybe you are a purpose-driven brand. Why you do it is the reason people work with you. It's not so much about what you sell. It's not so much about how you do it. It's not so much about who you are. It's why you do it. And I think an amazing example of this is the non-profit organization called Charity Water. If you haven't heard of Charity Water, they're an extremely unique non-profit. They're a charity with a business model unlike any that I've ever seen before, where when you give them money when you donate $1, 100% of the proceeds go to the work. They actually run as two non-profits. One is all of their operating expenses, and the other is the charity, where when you donate to them, all the money

goes there. Now, I'm sure you know that most non-profits tend to use between 18 and 30% of the money they're given for operating. They use that for advertising, for operating, for legal, for whatever it might be. Often, sometimes organizations can use even more, 40 to 60% of the money that they bring in. They use it just to bring in more money. I've been a part of galas and events where, like, these organizations lose money. They don't make any money off of these events, which is mind-boggling to me. But Charity Water... if you go to their website and you look at what they do, it all comes back to why they do it, why they do their work. There's a lot we can learn from this, even in a corporate setting, in a business setting, and in a marketing setting. You know, Simon Sinek's "Start With Why"—a lot of people got on board with this. Your purpose and your why could make the difference in why people purchase from you.

And lastly, experience. The most emotional end of the spectrum is the experience, what is the experience you provide? And I think the best way to explain this is a few years ago, I took my kids to Disney. And Disney, if you've ever been, is one of the greatest experience brands I have ever had a chance to come across. From the moment that we were driving along Disney World Way, or whatever that road's called, to the people at the parking gates who took our parking fees, to the people getting us on the little trolleys, so that way we could make the train. I mean, frankly, it took like 45 minutes to get into the park. We had to park, and then walk, and then take a tram, and then get on a boat, and then go across the river. And then we're just at the front gate. Like, how is it that, in any other experience, in any other place, in any other brand, in any other world, me spending 45 minutes or an hour just to get to the front gate, I would have been pretty pissed off? Or when you're in line... I mean, they've done so much work on queue theory, so that way you have an understanding of exactly how long the line is. Only they always say it's longer than it really is. And then they work to make the line as interactive and fun as possible. Because guess what, you're standing in that hot Florida heat.

And yet, they understand the experience behind it. And I didn't quite realize how awesome Disney was until day three of our trip. We're at Disney, day three, we gave our little kids—I've got four kids—we gave the little ones a day off. And my wife and I took the older ones to Universal Studios. Universal Studios didn't do any of this stuff. Walking through security from the parking lot was like fluorescent lighting flickering and a terrible experience. Walking into the park was not joyful. The restaurants were not great, the rides were okay, but the line-ups were like two or three hours. And they were boring and hot. And it's like after spending two days at Disney and then spending a day at Universal, I didn't quite realize how off-putting Universal was until I compared the two. And so, Disney parks—I don't know about the rest of Disney, but I can speak for Disney Parks—an amazing experience brand.

So let me ask you, where do you fall on this spectrum? Where do you fall in terms of what you're communicating what you're positioning what you're selling and what reason you're giving people to buy from you? Because here's why it's really important. Last September, a year ago, I was at Clickfunnels' annual event, Funnel Hackers. And I was sitting in the hotel having a conversation with a business owner. And this business owner has a podcast. And they have a mastermind group, like a coaching group, that they bring people into. And their sales have been ridiculous. The sign-ups for this private group have been over the top. But when I was working with the business owner and speaking to them, they were kind of saying it's a little bit frustrating. Because they've built out all of these processes, and all of these frameworks, and all of these downloads, and no one in the group is using them. They basically systematized the entire business so that way they could be hands-off. And that's how they want to run their business. And yet, no one in their group downloads them, looks at them, or anything. But every time that people in their group have a problem, they DM or call or reach out to the founders of this group. And the founders are like, "This is not scalable. This isn't why we created this business. So that way, all these people could chase us down. And we can answer their questions all the time." And I don't know. Is it clear to you what the issue is? Because it was clear to me right away what the issue is.

So here's the thing. They use their podcast, as their main lead generation tool for this private group. Well, who hosts the podcast? A personality? The personality, who you are, that is why people listen to a podcast. Yeah, I mean, of course, there's information on all these things. But if you're listening to this right now, hopefully, my personality isn't turning you off. And hopefully, it's helping. But this man has a huge following. And so the fact that people are listening to him on his podcast, like, know, and trust him because of his personality. That's something to know. The next step. Why do people buy this private group? Well, I mean, they're buying this private group because he leads the private group, again, personality, this is why they're buying, they're buying for his personality. And they want to get close to him. And they want his help. And so when they run into a problem or challenge or need some help, who are they going to reach out to? The personality. They're going to reach out to the personality because he hasn't put anyone else in charge.

Now, this guy who runs the podcast and the group built out all this process. He built out the systems the frameworks and the tools. He built out a process. But he has not been selling a process. He has been selling based on personality. And then he was hoping that his customers would somehow take part in the process. And I was like, "It's clear. It's clear what the issue is. Either you need to take these leads from your personality brand, or your podcast, and ensure that they understand that they're buying a process. And then you can build out this fully scalable, hands-off, no-touch approach, or you have to just embrace the fact that you have a personality brand with your podcast. You're using your personality to sell into your mastermind group. And when people join in there, the only thing they are buying from you is a connection to you, and your ability to solve their problems on demand. If you don't want that business, change it. But this is where your frustration is coming from."

And so I asked you when you consider your business, your products, your services? Are you an infrastructure brand? Do people buy

from you because they have to because you have the pipelines? Are you a product or service brand? Do people buy from you because of just what you sell? Are you a process brand? Do they buy from you or check you out because you have the process? The tools and the frameworks? Are you a personality brand? Do they buy from you because the personality is what's leading the way? Are you a purpose brand? Do people want to buy from you simply because of why you do what you do? Or lastly, are you an experienced brand? Do they buy from you because they love or want the experience? This will not only help you with your positioning, it will not only help you craft your messages, but it'll help ensure that you're delivering to the expectations of your prospects and your customers because you're delivering on the reasons why they buy from you.

I want to thank you for listening to this episode. Again, if you would like a download of this visual, head over to LinkedIn, give me a follow—my name is Mark Drager—and send me a DM, send me a message, and say, "I would love to get a download of the brand personality type." I will shoot that over to you personally. Thanks again for listening, and we will catch you in the next episode.

Resources & Go Deeper

"A Complete Guide to Successful Brand Positioning"

The article emphasizes the importance of being perceived as favourable, valuable, and credible by consumers. It also outlines various types of brand positioning strategies, such as customer service, convenience-based, price-based, quality-based, differentiation, and social media strategies, each tailored to highlight a product's competitive advantage and address competition's weaknesses​

A Complete Guide to Successful Brand Positioning (hubspot.com)

"Brand Positioning Strategies"

This guide provides a step-by-step approach to creating an effective brand positioning strategy. It starts with understanding your current brand positioning, conducting competitor research, identifying what makes your brand unique, building a brand positioning framework, and creating a brand positioning statement.

Brand Positioning Strategies - The Ultimate Guide [2022 Updated] (designbro.com)

"Emerald Insight - Positioning – a literature review"

This article provides a comprehensive review of the literature on product and brand positioning from 1969 to 2017. It includes a detailed analysis of how positioning has been defined and conceptualized over the years, referencing influential thinkers in the field like Alpert, Gatty, and Ries and Trout.

Positioning – a literature review | Emerald Insight